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I am a firm believer in trying the impossible. These are very difficult times for sure for most venues around the country. However, I continue to believe that we can share resources available to us as artists and promote early years activity within venues embedded in their local community in particular. With this in mind, I spoke to some of the representatives of venues where my own Silver Tree project has been accepted and presented to the mother and toddler groups as a performance and art activity at 11am in either a foyer space or on an otherwise dark stage. The key to the success of most early arts ventures is that they are relatively low-cost activities involving one or two actors or artists and minimal materials and technical requirements. Regular activity of this kind will ensure sustainability.

Ann Luttrell - Triskel Arts Centre, Tobin St. Cork City

"While we have not had any recent early years arts performances at our venue, we would certainly consider this for the future. Despite the fact that our venue is a listed building with fixed pews, we welcome any opportunity to host events for children."

Patricia Mc Bride - An Grianan Letterkenny

"We have programmed quite a bit of work for early years at an Grianan. As well as producing work for early years children in conjunction with other companies we have also hosted a number of performances by visiting artists. Most recently, we have also hosted a series of mother and toddler weekly drama sessions.

The impact on the theatre is that we have engaged with different types of artists to create new work, which we would not have done previously. This in turn has lead to a new audience for work at the theatre. In particular the weekly drama sessions for mothers and toddlers generated a new community of attendees at the theatre who also populated the theatre cafe and began using the theatre as a meeting place on a purely social level. This was a very positive impact in terms of meeting our core brief, which is to be a theatre at the heart of the community."

Most recently I had the pleasure of performing at West Cork Arts Centre as part of Skibbereen Arts festival. They also have a full early years arts programme embedded in the local community and far from the urban centres further north...

Finally, we were delighted to perform also at Spleodar Festival’s Community library in Nenagh and at the Hawkswell Theatre in Sligo as part of their international Literary Festival.

These unusual and vibrant venues proved to me that there is a community of early years carers and their charges with a huge desire to attend regular arts activities as a social event and also as a form of stimulation and a moment of togetherness that many other activities cannot provide in our fast paced society.

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